Coney Island Sideshow Banners
September 16, 2007
Marie Roberts is Artist in Residence at the not for profit arts center, Coney Island USA and has painted the banners for its' Side show, Museum and Mermaid Parade for the past ten years. The banner paintings are an attempt to push the genre into the 21st century, taking formal ideas from the past (from artists such as Giotto, Cimabue, Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh,) and using them to proclaim contemporary performers. These paintings are hung on the façade of the Coney Island USA building; they are bolted above the theater entrance, forming a "banner line". In addition to advertising the show, they are on view 24/7 all year long.
Ironically, after receiving a BA from Brooklyn College and an MFA from Queens College, and after exhibiting in the art world of Manhattan, these big paintings hanging in the area where the artist was born has been one of the most satisfying exhibition experiences she has known. She feels it is wonderful to have one's paintings on view in the street where the hip and unhip, educated and uneducated, rich, poor, and in between, can see them.
To paraphrase George Braque, co-founder of Cubism, it isn't how far one expands one's boundaries but how well one knows them. Roberts grew up with uncles and a father who worked the Dreamland Sideshow in Coney Island in the 1920's. Normal family conversation would include talking "Carney", or the occasional reference to a sword swallower or a bearded lady. Roberts found the perfect place to use her training and her background by painting the banners at Coney Island USA.
Marie Roberts lives and works in Southern Brooklyn, in the house where she was born; with the ghosts of her ancestors.